Not far from Rome is a lakeside country town that might at first seem similar to many others in Italy. But what makes Gradoli special though is its combined position beside Lake Bolsena and on the edge of a sleeping volcano (a volcano which is still technically active and could go off but hasn’t in a really long time), causing the perfect soil for Le Coste to grow its vineyards and produce its natural wines.
A trip out to visit the small winery is well worth the drive before you even get to the wine tasting. Unless you have rented a car, it’s probably better to join a tour and let someone take you there. While the views from the lovely vineyards are outstanding, the natural wines are even better. Le Coste has been famously natural for a long time, but this is their first year with commercial Pét Nat’s to offer. Pét Nat, short for Pétillant Natural, refers to a specific kind of sparkling natural wine whose popularity is growing at an impressive rate. Basically what happens is a naturally made wine is allowed to ferment like usual, but a bit before it’s finished it is moved into the bottle, and finishes fermenting in there which causes the bubbles.
Pét Nat’s have wine lovers from all over falling even harder. While Le Coste’s wines are available abroad and in Rome, it is worth the trip to discover where your drink comes from, how it’s made and why it’s made, to understand why you like it so much. (Trust me, you like it. All aboard the Pét Nat train.)
In the true spirit of natural production, owners Gian Marco Antonuzzi and Clémentine Bouveron also have synergistic gardens on their property – organic gardens that contain plants which all assist or benefit each other within the garden. Oh, and also a really friendly cat.
All photos via Sarah Freeman